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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

60                                THE GAY GENIUS

gust of wind blew right into his face. Soon it developed into a squall
blowing up pebbles and sand into the air and blinding the travellers.
Su Tungpo said to his followers; "Is the spirit getting angrier still? I
am not afraid of him." He went ahead on his journey and the storm
blew fiercer than ever. Only one man with his immediate luggage"
followed him, while the others and the horses tried to seek shelter, for
they found it impossible to proceed. Someone advised him to go back
to the temple and to apologise to the Mountain Spirit. "My fate is con-
trolled by God in high heaven," Su Tungpo replied. "If the Mountain
Spirit chooses to be angry, let him be angry. I shall proceed. What can
the spirit do to me?" Then the storm abated and blew over, nothing
else happened, and the soldier was cured.

Always believing in matching his wits against the unseen spirits, Su
Tungpo once drove a sharp bargain with the devil himself. Years laterv
when he was a high official living at the capital, the wife of his seconds
son, who was a granddaughter of Ouyang Shiu, one night was also
possessed of the devil, after childbirth. The young daughter-in-law
assumed the personality of a dead woman and said to those present:
"My name is Tsing and my surname Wang. My coagulated spirit has
not been able to disperse and I have remained a ghost around this place
for a long time." Su Tungpo said to the possessed woman: "I am not
afraid of ghosts. Besides, there are plenty of priests at the capital who
can drive out an evil spirit, and they can drive you out, too. Don't be so
stupid! Apparently you died because you were a stupid woman, and
now that you have died, you still want to create trouble." Then he
explained to the ghost some Buddhist ideas about human spirits, and
told her: "Now go quietly away, and tomorrow at dusk I shall say a
prayer to Buddha on your behalf.*' The ghost then put her palms
together and said: "Thank you, Your Excellency," and the daughter-in-
law recovered. The next day after sunset he wrote a prayer to a buddha
and prepared an offering of incense and wine and meat and sent the
ghost away.

Soon after, however, a child of his second son said that he had seen
a thief running about the house, looking very dark and thin, and clad
in a black dress. Su told his servants to search the house, but could find
nobody. Then the wet nurse suddenly fell on the floor and screamed.
Su went to see her and the wet nurse shouted:

"I am that dark, thin person in a black dress! I am not a thief, I am*
the house ghost. If you want me to depart from the person of the maid-
servant, you must invite a sorceress."

Addressing the ghost, Su said firmly: "No, I won't do it."

"If Your Excellency won't do this, I will not insist," replied the ghost
in a modified tone, "but can I have a prayer in my favour?"

"No," Su said.